Information I picked up at the recent Pet Food Forum suggests that pet food sales remain strong. Nielsen figures for pet consumables sales across all channels in 2018 totaled $32.7 billion, which is an increase of 5%. The interesting part of the data lies in the specific channel sales. The bulk of pet consumables $24 billion are still sold through mainstream and pet-only retailers, where sales growth was minimal—around one percent.
E-commerce sales are where the action is. There may have only been $3.6 billion in sales in 2018, but it was an increase of 53% over the previous year. Much like every other retail channel, e-commerce is making its mark. While I don’t have any data to back this up, I wouldn’t be surprised if pet parents are adding their pet food staples to their other online shopping lists. If you’re opting for convenience with your own food, why wouldn’t you do the same for your pets’ food? And I’m not referring to homemade pet food delivery subscriptions. I realize they exist, but despite people’s love for their critters, it’s got to be cost prohibitive for mainstream consumers.
In fact, as I’ve mentioned before in this space, trends in the pet food world are eerily similar to those in the human food market. It’s not all that unusual when you consider the increasing humanization of pets. Most people today consider their pets part of the family. As a consequence, they want the best for their pets and that includes a well-balanced, nutritionally sound diet. And while people want to improve the quality of life for their pets, they don’t always know what a well-balanced, nutritionally sound diet for them is, so they default to what they’re eating.
If a food is good for me, it’s good for my family—and that includes the four-legged members. If I eat gluten-free or dairy-free or plant-forward or insect-forward or fill-in-the-blank, my cat or dog should, as well. That says to me there’s an opportunity for education. Educate pet owners on the nutritional needs of their pet companions, and they’ll come to you for nutritionally sound foods for them.
More familiar trends
Here are few other crossover trends:
DIY pet foods – People make their own baby foods, so why not pet foods? Pet parents have taken to supplementing pet mealtimes with homemade side dishes or entire meals. They’re fresh; you know what ingredients are included; and you can tailor them to individual preferences or aversions. This ties into the next trend.
Clean label – This trend is definitely being led by younger consumers. Clean label covers a lot of ground. It’s not just a short ingredient list or recognizable, kitchen cupboard ingredients; it also encompasses a food’s provenance, how far did it travel, was it produced sustainably and humanely. Local also carries a certain cachet, along with small, entrepreneurial brands. People want to feel good about the food they buy for themselves and that which they feed their pets. There’s a new level of transparency being demanded in food processing—both pet and human.
Snacking – Sometimes referred to as the fourth meal of the day, snacking is its own meal occasion. With this new permanent place at the table, snacking is big business. Pet snacking is a daily affair for many furry friends, as well. Pet treats are a way for owners to deliver supplements to their pets to keep them healthy, and they also serve as a treat.
Have you considered dried apples as clean-label healthy snack application?
Benefits of Dried Apples:
•Real fruit inclusion
•Various sizes and shapes for different piece identities
•Low-cost transportation and storage
•Easy handling and reduced labor costs
•Low-cost alternative to fresh or frozen apples
Explore all our dried fruit products and let us help you create the perfect ingredient for your next pet food formulation.